Fish Story

No Fluke: Fish Mislabeling Is Rampant in New York

Where's the tilapia?
Where’s the tilapia? Photo: Melissa Hom

Here’s the deal, “tilapia.” We started off friends. It was cool, but it was all pretend, apparently, because last night, the conservation and advocacy group Oceana released a new study indicating a staggering “39 percent of nearly 150 samples of fresh seafood collected from 81 establishments in the city this summer were mislabeled.” That’s a lot of fake fish.

That “white tuna” you scarfed down at the sushi buffet? Coulda been escolar, which causes diarrhea. That red snapper escabeche at the high-end Nuevo Latino place is maybe made with tilefish, which can contain Jeremy Piven–esque levels of mercury. Restaurants and chefs are often defrauded by unscrupulous purveyors, and it’s not just the no-name chowder house tucked away near the Lincoln Tunnel entrance: “One restaurant in the highest price range offered red snapper on its menu but, according to Oceana,” the Times reports, “was serving up lowly tilapia.” The study is the fourth of its kind conducted by Oceana, which has found similar levels of imposter fish in Boston, Los Angeles, and Miami.

Tests Say Mislabeled Fish Is a Widespread Problem

No Fluke: Fish Mislabeling Is Rampant in New York